Muiris O Súilleabháin (1904-50)

Criticism

Life
b. 19 Feb. 1904, on Great Blasket, off W. Kerrry; raised in Dingle on death of mother at 6 months; attended local school in English before returning to the island and to Irish at 7 [1905-1911]; befriended by George Thomson, from Cambridge, 1923; joined Garda in Dublin, 1927; stationed at Indreabán [Inverin], in Connemara Gaeltacht; encouraged to write his classic Fiche Bliain ag Fás (1933) by George Thomson [aka Seoirse Mac Tomáis], lecturer in Greek at UCG, 1923-34;
 
posted at Garda station in An Ceathrú Rua at insistence of Earnest Bythe [Earnán de Blagh]; resisted linguistic interference of “An Seabhac”, the chief editor at An Gúm; his Fiche Bliain trans. as Twenty Years A-Growing (London 1933) by Thomson and Moya Llewellyn Davies; left Guards, 1934, settled in Connemara, and drowned swimming, 25 June, shortly after rejoining the Guards; manuscript of rejected Fiche Blian Fé Bhláth lost. DIB DIW DIH OCIL

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Works
Fiche Bliain ag Fás (Dublin: Talbot 1933), Do., trans. by Thomson and Moya Llewellyn Davies as Twenty Years A-Growing (London 1933).

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Criticism
Muiris Mac Chonghail, Aghaidheanna Fidil agus Púicíní: Seorse Mac Tomáis in Éirinn 1923-1934 (BAC: Sairseal/Marcaigh 2009). [to do with the production of Ó Suilleabhain’s Fiche Bliain ag Fás and containing the correspondence between O Súilleabháin and Mac Tomáis]. Also Máirín Nic Eoin, An Litríocht Réigiúnach (Baile Átha Cliath: An Clóchomhar Tta 1982)

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Notes
E. M. Foster wrote an introductory note to Maurice O’Sullivan’s Twenty Years A-Growing (1933), in which the following: ‘It is worth saying, “This book is unique”, lest he [the reader] forget what a very odd document he has got hold of. He is about to read an account of neolithic civilization from the inside.’ (Intro. OUP, World Classics, 1966 ed.). Further, describes it as being like ‘the egg of a sea-bird - lovely, perfect, and laid this very morning’.

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George Thomson, otherwise Seoirse Mac Tomáis, was appointed to a lectureship in Irish at the insistence of the then Minister of Education Ernest Blythe, in 1923; Ó Suilleabháin was likewise posted to An Ceathru Rua on his insistence. During his sojourn in Galway Mac Tomáis translated 10 Classical Greek texts into Irish, including the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was unhappy at Galway and wrote to Blythe that they did not understand what a university should be, but believed that the Blasket Islands had given him the answer to the Homeric question, how and who had composed the Homeric songs. He returned to Cambridge and was subsequently appointed th ethe chair of Classics at Birmingham in 1937. See Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, review of Muiris Mac Chonghail, Aghaidheanna Fidil agus Púicíní: Seorse Mac Tomáis in Éirinn 1923-1934, 2009, in The Irish Times, 19 Sept. 2009, Weekend, p.13.)

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